Today I want to talk about food organization. Not in the sense that you have a neat pantry (we will address that another time). But I want to talk about meal planning as part of the organizational structure.
These days many of us are attempting to juggle work and home life and whether we care for ourselves or a family of ten, it seems that the time for meal preparation is hard to find.
There is always a feeling of stress and anxiety about where our next meal is coming from, what to feed a picky eater, how many dishes we will have to wash and the cost associated with eating. So we end up waiting in line at McDonalds/Chipotle/KFC – pick your place – once again.
Chances are , however, that you have more than enough food in your house to create delicious simple meals for anywhere between a week to a month (if you are a food hoarder like my husband and myself!)
I enjoy a good pantry assessment every now and then. It is a way or organize your shelves, kitchen and freezer and it can also save you a bit of money. Win-Win!
However it does require a bit of planning.
Start by taking an inventory of what you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry. You can write it down or take photos for easy reference. Whatever your preference, make sure and check all the way in the back – search out that random can of chopped olives, Vienna sausages and that jerk chicken marinade. Everything counts in this game!
Next – looking at the treasures you discovered, start thinking about what you can make. You can get creative and try a new combination, or stick to old classics. Protein, rice and vegetables; Pasta with pesto/red sauce/oil and garlic; Rice and bean bowls……you get it. Simple is delicious!
I love meal planning because it takes the guess work out and stress out of “what are we having for dinner tonight”. Sure the plan doesn’t always hold, but you can simply jump right back in the next day.
I try to sit down on a Friday evening or Saturday morning before anyone is awake and come up with my menu. This way I can knock out my shopping over the weekend and be ready for Monday (or as ready as one can ever be for Monday!)
Find a blank downloadable calendar, make a list, draw it on the chalkboard. Whatever system you use, fill in a meal for each day that you can make using primarily the food you have. You may want to add a few fresh items, but the goal is to use what you have. Once you figured out your meals, create your grocery list and head to the store.
Give it a try, or two or three – you might find you like it. At the very least, you might find some interesting purchases stashed in the back of your cupboards!